How I am Staying Healthy and (relatively) Zen

By Jillian Mariani,

Niyama Yoga Wellness Founder

Get More Sleep. Adequate sleep helps nourish your immune system – and most of us don’t get enough during “normal” times.

Like most Canadians, I’ve been at home with my family for a very LONG time now.

Like many, I was away with my family for March break when everything went sideways. In hindsight, we should not have boarded our plane to go away, but like many we optimistically did. We were exceptionally fortunate to get back when we did, amid closing borders and suspended air travel and I remain incredibly grateful to my husband for freaking out and getting us on flights, while I was still in partial denial.

This time has been, and continues to be so strange. My husband and I both work mostly from home anyway, so were well equipped to continue that. But with no external meetings or days on the road, that adds up to a lot of WFH time! Which is both good and bad. Our kids have taken over the dining room for their schoolwork, knowing now that their return to in-class school will be September at earliest, and we have settled into the “new normal” . As each day passes, the initial inconveniences of quarantine become less and less taxing. Our perspective is changing – staying home is feeling like a small sacrifice when so many are suffering. We have enough food, we are healthy, we can still go for walks (6 feet away from others), we haven’t lost anyone. We are crazy lucky.

But let’s face it, it’s no picnic. And it is REALLY dragging on. As an Ontario resident, our reopening will be slower and more careful, given the number of cases, and the fear of Wave 2 is very real. To go through all of this, both as a family and as business owner and then have a Wave 2 push us back into quarantine again would be devasting. So much uncertainty for all of us to deal with as we start to navigate adjusting to another normal as society carefully reopens. And I’m not the most laid-back person to begin with – I am definitely type A and have always been somewhat prone to anxiety and sleep issues. So I am sharing my coping mechanisms in the hopes that they are also useful for others. While the clichés of “We are all in this together” is getting really old, it is true. But we are also all experiencing it differently, and to very different degrees. A lot of my strategies are not new, but taken all together they have been very effective. Hope they help you too!

Here is what I am doing to stay calm:  

 

  1. The Daily Basics:
    • Make the bed – starts your day with a small “win” LOL
    • Shower – or take a bath – you probably have time!
    • Get dressed (yoga pants totally count as clothes, PJs don’t!)
    • Hand-washing after every errand or even just bringing in the mail or your online deliveries
    • Daily movement – a walk outside (distanced), doing yoga at home (most studios are offering online versions of their classes), doing stairs if you have them, whatever works for you. Minimum 20 minutes per day. Seriously, you have the time. Aim for 6 days a week.
    • Connect – talk face to face with those with you, but also connect by phone or video with friends and family.
  2. Get More Sleep. Adequate sleep helps nourish your immune system – and most of us don’t get enough during “normal” times. Use this time to restore healthy sleep patterns. Aim for 8-9 hours per night. Obviously, this is easier said than done. With so much uncertainty and the situation charging hourly, it is becoming even harder to disconnect from technology and get rest. Try these tips:
    • Consistent bedtime and wake times
    • Set a News, email & Social Media cut-off time at the end of the day – minimum one hour before bed time (even earlier is better though)
    • Do not take your phone into your bedroom. Recharge separately. This makes a huge difference.
    • Deep breathing or a meditation to wind down (I like the Headspace app for guided relaxation)
    • Read a book in bed
    • See #4 on Supplements if you need extra help
  1. Eat well. Whether you are an omnivore or plant-based or paleo or keto or flexitarian or something in between, aim for 3 meals per day with minimal snacking. Whole (not processed) foods with minimal sugar or refined carbs. Include a protein source and healthy fats at each meal. At our house breakfast and lunch are largely self-serve as our teens are not on the same sleep/wake times as my husband and I. Lunch is an opportunity to use leftovers. Dinner is a daily event though; we are all taking turns meal planning and cooking, and everyone but the cook does clean-up. We eat together at the table with no phones. It’s actually really nice. And we are fortunate that family and grocery delivery is keeping us well stocked on most things. And Fridays we order in as a treat.

 

  1. My entire career has been in vitamins and supplements, so this is a huge part of my family’s normal health plan. And it’s even more crucial now when there is so much uncertainty. Not only do we want to keep our immune systems strong and virus-fighting, but we want to guard against all health issues and leave medical resources for those that need them most. Here is the list of what I would say are essentials; we take a lot more than this but I know that we are geeks and a bit on the extreme side when it comes to supplements, so here is a pared-down list:
    • Vitamin D: in my opinion, this is the cheapest, easiest form of health insurance around. While Health Canada has the upper limit for supplementation at 1000iu per day, there is evidence to suggest that more is needed if you are starting in a place where you might be deficient. Take your health provider’s advice. We take significantly more than 1000iu daily. Take whatever form you like – tablets, drops, chewables, gummies – whatever.
    • Immune boosters: Daily Vitamin C, L-glutamine. Probiotics, Zinc and NAC (for respiratory) if a cold is coming on.
    • Stress relief: Magnesium & adaptogens. Magnesium helps calm the central nervous system and can be in tablet, capsule or powder form – whatever works for you. I like the CanPrev Magnesium Bisglycinate powder. Adaptogens help your body in times of stress. And we are all in “fight or flight” mode right now with everything going on. Daytime Zen is my go-to for adaptogens because it contains 3 Ayuervedic adaptogens plus L-theanine, and one capsule in the morning makes me feel calm yet alert and focused all day – my best self. Our youngest says it makes me nicer. But take what works for you.
    • Sleep: I’m not naturally a good sleeper (for more sleep tips check out this blog) and I have tried almost every natural product available to help me turn of my brain and get the good quality sleep I need. Sleep Like Buddha is a combination of the 3 ingredients that have personally helped me most over the past 22 years – all in one capsule. And one is usually enough, but I’ve been taking 2 since we got back to combat my COVID-19 related anxiety. There is no melatonin in it (no groggy mornings!) so I occasionally add a few mg of melatonin to my sleep ritual if I’ve changed time zones, or have had a couple late nights and am way off schedule.
  1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Especially with those you are at home with. Our house is (way) messier than I would like but everyone is contributing in some way.   If you live alone this might be a great time to Marie Kondo your entire home. But if you live with others you might send them over the edge. Let it go. It’s ok. Not every day has to be productive. Give yourself permission to slow down. This is not going to resolve quickly but it’s not going to last forever either, and you will be super busy again soon enough.

Jillian Mariani

Jillian Mariani is the founder and general manager of Niyamaä Yoga Wellness. Jillian spent her 20-year corporate career in the Canadian Natural Health Supplements category, in sales, marketing and product development with some of Canada’s favourite brands of vitamins and supplements. Jillian holds a BA from UofT, a diploma in Nutritional Management from GBC, an MBA from Schulich School of Business, and a YTT-200H from Downward Dog Yoga Centre. She lives in Toronto with her husband and children, and teaches Vinyasa part-time. In addition to yoga, she enjoys cooking, travel, Game of Thrones, good books and turmeric lattes, dark chocolate, and beach walks.

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